“Thank You For Coming”

Advice for the stage actor…

What happens when you have a rough performance night? Meaning you didn’t feel good about your work. You felt like you pushed, you “schmacted”, you relied solely on craft and technique to get you through, you were constantly “in and out”, you were “not present”, etc…

And there are people–maybe close friends, family members and other people you care about–waiting for you in the lobby. They want to talk to you. Talk about the show. But all you want to do is get dressed, escape out the back door and beat yourself up for being a giant hack.

What do you do?

A primer…

Breathe.

Splash some cold water on your face.

Get dressed. Quickly.

Do your post-show notebook practice.

Breathe.

Remind yourself that right now isn’t about you and how you feel. It’s about them. They took time out of their busy lives, purchased a ticket, found a babysitter, drove down, parked and showed up on time to see this play. On this night. It’s a miracle they’re here.

Breathe again. Deeply.

Head out to the lobby.

Walk up to each and every one of them, shoulders back, chest out, head held high, smile, look them in the eye and say…

“Thank you for coming.”

LISTEN to whatever they want to tell you. For however long they want to talk. If they’re congratulatory–most of them time they will be, especially if you’re acting in something you’re passionate about–then thank them for their kind words. Don’t deny their experience because you felt bad about your performance. Again, it’s not about you right now.

When they’re done talking and are heading out the door, again say…

“Thank you for coming.”

Go home. Don’t beat yourself up (I know it’s hard) and try to get a good night’s sleep. Know that when you wake up, you’ll review your notebook, you’ll attack the script, go over every beat, analyze all the moments and you’ll figure out what you can improve on.

Remember that one of the great things about live theatre is that tonight, you get another chance to go out there and kick ass.

And you will.

And, just like the night before, you’ll finish the show, do your routine, head out to the lobby and say to every audience member who wants to talk to you…

“Thank you for coming.”

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